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The Friday Five: 2015 Year In Review

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA, or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Since next Friday is Christmas Day, and then we’re out of Fridays for the year 2015, I thought I’d write my year in review column this week. Scary as it may be to think about, I’d say we’re close enough to the end of the year for a retrospective. It’s been another fun and successful year here at the NLSC, and I’m intending to do my best to ensure that trend continues into 2016. For now though, I’d like to take a look back at the year that was.

For this retrospective, I’ll be listing some of my favourite editions of The Friday Five and episodes of the NLSC Podcast from 2015, and reminiscing about some of the other big moments we’ve had here at the NLSC during the past 12 months. I hope you’ll find it an appropriate way to cap off the year – even if we do still have a little less than two weeks left of it – and that you’ll enjoy my editor’s picks as far as the Five and Podcast are concerned. With that said, here’s my 2015 Year In Review!

1. My 5 Favourite NLSC Podcast Episodes of 2015

Blake Griffin with the layup in NBA Live 16

Unfortunately, when it came to the NLSC Podcast, Arcane and I missed a few more weeks than we would’ve liked this year. We enjoy recording the shows every week, but a combination of illness, technical issues, and other commitments resulted in us going missing in action for a couple of stretches. We’ve since settled into a good routine with the Podcast, with only a couple of late releases in the past few months (incidentally, this week will be another one of those occasions), and with more streamlined shows that run for about an hour. This year, my five favourite episodes were…

  1. Episode #129 (Sean O’Brien Interview)
  2. Episode #127 (Leftos & JaoSming Interview)
  3. Episode #138
  4. Episode #121
  5. Episode #113

Our interview episodes are always automatic inclusions. It’s a big deal for us whenever we can get developer interviews like that, and we also love it when we can get our friends and former team members back on the show. Last week’s show, Episode #138, is one that I felt really good about after we recorded it, and we received some nice feedback on it as well. Episode #121 was our E3 show, and also the end of the 2015 NBA Finals. Episode #113 meanwhile was a show with a variety of topics that piqued our interest, including some that allowed us to fondly reminisce. We really appreciate everyone’s support of the Podcast, and look forward to maintaining a regular release schedule with more interviews and fun discussion in 2016!

2. My 5 Favourite Friday Five Columns of 2015

1997/1998 Rosters from Lutz's NBA Live 95 Roster Patches

For the first time since I started writing the Friday Five in 2013, I had to miss posting a column a couple of times in 2015. As with the Podcast, it came down to illness or other commitments getting in the way, and I had to give it a miss. I hate doing that, but sometimes it’s inevitable, and hey, streaks are meant to be broken. Just ask the Golden State Warriors, or The Undertaker. In any event, there were some subjects that I really enjoyed writing about this year, and these were my favourite columns of 2015.

  1. Michael Jordan In Basketball Video Games
  2. 5 Most Significant Patches & Mods
  3. My Top 5 Favourite NBA Live Games
  4. 5 Things NBA Live 17 Absolutely Has To Do
  5. 5 NBA Finals Fun Facts

The MJ column allowed me to write about my all-time favourite player, the week of the 20th Anniversary of his first comeback. While I enjoy writing about whatever’s on my mind that particular week, I especially enjoy it when I can also make a Five topical. The piece about the five most significant mods and patches covered an obvious and important topic that I’d somehow managed to overlook for a couple of years. It was fun to look back on my favourite NBA Live games as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations; on a more critical note, I’d like to think I covered some important stuff discussing the things NBA Live 17 absolutely must do. Finally, I felt I managed to dig up some interesting fun facts about the NBA Finals, to coincide with this year’s championship series. Stay tuned for more Fives in 2016!

3. NBA Live 16 Community Event

NBA Live 16 Community Event in August 2015

One of the most exciting things that I was able to do in 2015 – my fourteenth year running the NLSC – was attend an NBA Live 16 Community Event. It’s a long flight to Orlando and back, and I caught a nasty cough on the plane coming home, but it was absolutely worth it to get a look at the game early, and provide feedback to the development team. It was a great experience, easily the best community event I’ve attended with three days of hands-on time, outstanding organisation, and some great interaction with the developers and my fellow basketball gamers.

As for NBA Live 16 itself, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t everything we were hoping for. I discussed the matter in more detail in my aforementioned “5 Things NBA Live 17 Absolutely Has To Do” edition of The Friday Five, but suffice to say the animations need to get better, the controls could stand to be expanded upon, roster editing must return, and more depth is required in modes like Dynasty and Rising Star. However, there were also noticeable improvements, and meeting with the developers in July, I could tell that there truly are some passionate folks working on the game. 2015 didn’t see quite as big a leap for NBA Live as some of us were hoping for, but the game did get better. Hopefully, 2016 will be an even better year with NBA Live 17.

4. New Content in 2015

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

While I missed a few weeks with the NLSC Podcast and the Friday Five, I was also able to introduce some new content to the NLSC in 2015. We’re now starting out each week with Monday Tip-Off, and going retro midweek with Wayback Wednesday. As much as I like doing the Five, I also like having a second feature with a less rigid format, and I’m really enjoying doing some retro content, especially the videos. You can expect to see more of them next year along with a couple of other features I have in mind, and of course, more (belated) 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content.

We also brought long-time community member Kenny on board to write some columns, which have been coming out on Sundays. It’s been great to have another voice in the editorials, and I encourage you to check out his stuff in the Features section. We might be looking to bring some more people on board in 2016, so be on the lookout for an announcement about that. Our modding community is still going strong, especially with some recent developments and NBA 2K16 PC being a bit more modder-friendly. I’d like to think that if you visited the NLSC frequently in 2015, you’ve been greeted by good coverage of NBA Live and NBA 2K, quality patches and mods, and regular fresh content. We definitely want to keep that going.

5. Summing up 2015

Stephen Curry in NBA 2K15

As I said, I believe it’s been another good year at the NLSC. We’ve had relatively few technical hiccups – touch wood – and our outstanding host has hooked me up with the tools to get things back up and running when we do experience downtime. Of course, I’m not awake or around to take care of things 24 hours a day, but it’s definitely made the troubleshooting process quicker and easier when problems have arisen. We’ve had developer interviews, new content, another strong release in NBA 2K16, a release that shows further promise in NBA Live 16, and some fun moments in the NBA. As fans of basketball and basketball video games, I think we’ve had a good time here at the NLSC in 2015.

I’m always hoping to make things bigger and better though, and that remains my goal as we look towards 2016. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get all the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content out as quickly as I’d like, so that’s going to bleed over into next year. A little belated, but I think you’ll enjoy it nevertheless. I’m also hoping to keep getting better at producing videos, and that’s something I want to do more of moving forward. All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with how things went in 2015, and I expect 2016 to be another great year.

As always, thank you for your support, your kind words, and your constructive feedback. We’re by fans, for the fans, dedicated to the notion of fans not fanboys, critics not haters. Stick around, as it’s our own 20th Anniversary next year; we’re not going anywhere, and there’s a lot we want to do. In the meantime, that’s all for this week. As always, feel free to hit me up with your thoughts in the comments, or take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. I’ll probably do a little something for Christmas Day next week but until then, thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and keep checking in on Fridays for more Fives.

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Thank you for a lot of work, Andrew! 😉 Happy new year to all! 🙂